I have not written a blog entry in a while, but I decided that I had a few things to share since many of us are working from home and are spending a lot of time on video conferences.
Here are the three most important areas to focus on to make you look better when you are on a video conference using a webcam.
First, get the webcam to the correct position. You want it eye-level or slightly higher and looking down. If the webcam is embedded into your laptop, elevate the laptop until it is at a better angle. it is much more flattering to have the image being recorded looking straight ahead or slightly down that it is to be recording in an upward angle. When talking to people, look into the camera lens as that is makes it appear that you are looking at the person you are speaking to.
If you can, try and get your camera control software to zoom in and adjust where you appear on the screen. Many good webcams cameras are fairly wide angle, and that makes you look smaller and picks up more of the background.
Try to wear a plain shirt and shirts with lines or a plaid pattern can “swim” when being recorded on a webcam.
The second important area to focus on is lighting. You want to be lit the most from in front and slightly above is better than straight on as looking directly into a bright light can make you squint and cause eye strain. Some side lighting helps, especially if it is diffuse and a specific back light can also help to separate you from the background. Most people look better with side lighting just from one side to provide a little bit of shadowing as it adds definition to your face.
I use an elgato keylight as my main lighting source. It is behind my camera and elevated. I like the clamping mounting system as it takes up very little desk space. If you think you will move where you do the video conferencing pretty often, the key light air might be a better choice.
If you do research on lighting for video shooting, you will see the above advice echoed. Most professionals use three point lighting. The closer you can emulate that, the better you will look.
The last area to focus on to look as good as possible is the background. Where possible, try and have as plain a background as you can. I use an elgato green screen as it sets up quickly and it easy to store when not in use.
If you can’t be close to a plain background, or create one via a green screen, you end up with something that looks more like this, which is not as good looking on video:
We all don’t have complete control over what is in the background, that is why a pop-up green screen helps. Note how distracting the window in the background is. Try and avoid that as much as possible, especially if you do not have a good light in front as it will back light you and make you look dark with your face hidden in shadows.
With a green screen, the virtual background feature of zoom is much better. If you are not using zoom with its built in virtual background, you can use a program such as XSplit Vcam that will take your webcam feed and insert green screen/virtual background functionality into pretty much any video conferencing software.
As a more advanced topic, if you want an even better video feed than a standard webcam, elgato makes a device called a camlink, which is a USB interface between a DSLR camera with clean HDMI and your computer that allows you to use the superior lenses and sensors in the DLSR camera as a web cam. You probably want to pick up a magic mount by elgato as well.
As it is a little more advanced, here are 2 videos on camlink and using a DSLR camera. They are from the point of view of streaming, but the advice applies to video conferences.
I also provided link to the various product pages below.
If you want to sound better, the microphone that comes with this headset is quite good.